Like almost everyone, I sometimes stop and reminisce about the past. I mainly think about secondary school and university and like most people when they reminisce, I think that life was better, and I was happier back then.
Now I know that generally when people reminisce it is with rose tinted glasses, we look back and only remember how good it was, we generally forget the everyday stresses and problems we had. So even though I might reminisce and think about what a great time I had at school, my life right now is probably just as good, if not better!
What is interesting, when reminiscing, is how my life has changed. What can I learn from my younger self? How was my life different back then to how it is now? What were the things that made me happy and do I still do them?
I think that I can learn some things about myself from looking at the past. Lying in bed, I thought about the major differences between my life at secondary school, and my life now. I came up with 3:
I was a lot closer (physically and emotionally) to my family
I was surrounded by friends every day
I was constantly busy and did a lot of activities
These three things are all things that made me happy. Of course, being close to family and friends can make you stressed and angry at times too! But generally these are the big differences between then and now, and I wonder if I can use this information to change my life for the better.
1. I was a lot closer to my family
Now I am older, I don’t live with my parents any more. I’m not upset about that, but I do occasionally miss the conversations and days out that we had. Although I still see them now, it’s not as often as I would like, and I barely get to see my 2 sisters at all. Perhaps spending some quality time with them will make me happier? We will see as I am going on holiday with them soon!
My ‘weaning’ process from my parents has been pretty slow. I am now 25, and although I haven’t lived with my parents permanently for 6 years, my room back there is still available for me whenever I need it. I think it’s probably about time I broke away from this security blanked! It’s time to stop calling where my parents live ‘home’ and to start recognising that I am making a new home, and a new family, with my boyfriend.
2. I was surrounded by friends every day
At school, you make friends with the people that you share classes with every day. There’s thousands of people in a school and you are joint by a mutual enemy- the teacher! I think going to a girls school was great for me, as I spent a lot of my teenage years giggling and laughing and getting very hyper! It’s a shame that grown ups lose their ability to get the hysterics over nothing!
I don’t spend my days surrounded by friends any more, I spend them at work. At work there are only about 6 people that I see every day, and I consider them to be colleagues, not friends. Work has a serious lack of laughing and giggling! The people I work with at my current job have very negative outlooks on life and work. They regularly come in complaining and stressed.
There’s an adage that if you want to be skinny then you should surround yourself with skinny people. Well, I think that’s true of happiness as well. If you want to be happy, surround yourself with positive, happy people. I managed that when I was a teenager, but now I am surrounded by the opposite. And believe me, it rubs off! I have caught myself becoming like them, complaining about everything. Interestingly, when I spent a week trying to be happy and positive, it seemed to rub off on them!!!
3. I was constantly busy with lots of activities
At school, I had 7 different lessons a day. As well as that I had choir, ecology club, piano, shows outside of school, duke of edinburgh hikes, driving lessons, trampolining etc. I took GCSE’s in 13 different subjects. I was busy, and I loved it!
I loved being organised, and writing all the work I had to do in my homework diary. Every time I got to cross something off felt like an achievement. I got badges for trampolining, and was applauded at every show and choir concert. I got grades for every piece of work. In short, I was constantly, constantly feeling like I was achieving something. I felt successful.
Now, at work, there is little recognition for the things that I achieve. Yes, I get paid, but wouldn’t it be nice to get that little ‘pat on the head’, that recognition for the things that I have done. It’s not really going to happen. In the workplace, the salary is the main driver.
How can I feel as successful and that sense of achievement now? I spend the majority of my time at work, so taking more pride in my work might help. Having a to do list and the satisfaction of crossing things off of the list might help as well. Ultimately though, I think I’m going to have to get the sense of success from somewhere else.
I think the problem at the moment is that I’m not achieving my potential. Maybe it wasn’t the constant recognition of achievement that made me happy at school, maybe it was the fact that I knew that I was doing my best, and achieving the most that I possibly could.
It’s time to achieve my potential again! This actually reminds me of a song I sang at school:
Wherever I’m going, I’ll follow the sky
And though I may stumble from reaching to high
I’ll look for the rainbow, and surely I’ll know
That life is a wonder wherever we go
What have I learnt?
Well, I’m going to stay better acquainted with my family, maybe phoning or visiting more often. I’ve also got to find myself some positive, happy people to surround myself with. Or, failing that, I will become the happy positive person in the office, and hopefully this will rub off! Finally, I need to start achieving my potential. Working harder at working and getting a promotion would be nice, but I could also start doing more in my free time. Playing piano again would be a start, and I have a maths book that I’m planning on working through. Maybe I should even get into amateur dramatics so that I can have that satisfying round of applause every now and then!
Reminiscing could be like looking back into a better life, but there’s no reason why my current life can’t overtake it!